| Artist: The Mystic Underground|
CD Title: The Nameless and the Faceless
Label: Stereosonic Recordings
Reviewer: Matthew Johnson
The Mystic Underground’s new release might be a ray of hope for fans of ‘80s synthpop, with their romanticism and hinted Talk Talk influences, but unfortunately their new album just isn’t very good. The band’s biggest problem is that singer Vladimir Valette still needs a lot of help with his vocals. While his voice is good in and of itself, a smooth tenor that should be perfect for sincere, melancholy pop tunes, it’s off-key more often than not, and the lyrics are passable at best. Without the singing, the music is workmanlike but far from remarkable, although the jazzy house piano bridge on “Ammunition” is quite nice. Likewise, the production seems a bit amateurish for an all-electronic act; don’t they have computers to adjust the levels nowadays? “The Birds” is one of the better tracks, with nice synthesizers and another beautiful piano line, but the repetitive chorus, delivered in a breathless, melodramatic falsetto, just goes and ruins everything again. The Mystic Underground do seem to work better on slower pieces, like the piano ballad “I Remember Everything,” and you start to think that even though Marc Almond wasn’t always on-key, Soft Cell were still brilliant. Almond had camp and cleverness on his side, though, while all the Mystic Underground have going for them is bland sincerity. It’s not enough.
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